Saturday, February 28, 2009

Guest Blogger

Democrat, Republican or Independent, the 2009 inauguration marked a very historic event. BossLady was one of the millions of people who attended and I asked her to document her attendance.

If you would like to be a guest blogger in the future, please submit your entry and my Board of Directors will review and make a decision. And without further delay, I would like to introduce my very first guest blogger: BossLady!

I’m clearly an Obama supporter and proud of it.

On January 20, 2009, I had the wonderful opportunity to stand on the National Mall among friends and strangers as Obama was sworn in to become the 44th President. It was so amazing!! I still can’t believe I was there.

My journey to witness history began on Saturday, January 17 at 3 am. My husband and I packed into a rental van with a group of friends and headed to our nation’s capital. On our first night, we ate where Obama ate just weeks before us--the most famous place in DC -- Ben’s Chili Bowl. If you EVER go to DC…you MUST eat there. There’s even an American seal on the wall where Obama sat.

The next day we attended the first official Inauguration event, which was the opening ceremony/concert on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. The concert featured big names like Stevie Wonder, U2 and Beyonce. They all looked like ants to us but it was still cool to be there; however, we did see them on the mega TV screens they had lined up all along and throughout the National Mall.

That day was the first day we started to realize what a major event this was going to be. There were droves of people everywhere. The ceremony didn’t even start until 2:30 pm but the entire Lincoln Memorial lawn was covered by that morning. Obama said only a few words … but it was great nonetheless.
During the rest of the trip, no matter where we were – our hotel, public bathrooms, restaurants, the streets, the metro, on the National Mall – people talked to us. I met people from across the country. Where are you from? How long have you been here? Isn’t this amazing? It was like being at a big family picnic – everybody was there for a good time.

Fast-forward to Inauguration day. It started at 2:30 am. My husband and I woke up, got ready and packed our winter coats with snacks and water for later (we knew it was going to be a long day). We met our group of 6 friends downstairs in the hotel. Oh, we also grabbed our hotel blankets (you know the extra ones they put in the closet). You’ll read later as to why we brought these.

By 3:30 am, we all hopped in the van and headed down to the Metro parking station. We had to take the Metro down to the Capitol because every street leading into the Capitol was blocked except for approved vehicles. About a mile before we arrive at the Metro, we were greeted with hundreds of cars and came to a complete stop. Turned out that each of the Metro stations only had 1 person taking the $4 cash each car had to pay to get into the lot. Ridiculous! We sat in the van for 2 hours. Once we got to the Metro, there was yet another line of people just to get onto the train. We had about 13 stops before we got near the Capitol. Fortunately we got seats but the train became so packed that I eventually lost sight of my husband. So I befriended some folks from Colorado; they actually had inauguration tickets (most people did not).
After being on the train for more than an hour, we arrive at our stop (I did find my husband BTW). OMG, the sight was incredible...well, more like scary. We literally pushed our way out of the train, and quickly found ourselves cheek to cheek with thousands of people. Eventually, we squeezed ourselves from the bottom of the escalator to the top of the street. Let me tell you, it was not for the claustrophobic types. We reached the street level and joined thousands more people … we all marched together on the cold, gray streets to the U.S. Capitol.

At 8 am … we finally reached the National Mall, which was filled with a few million people. Cheerful people. Diverse people. Young and old. Joy was permeating the air. I could just feel the energy (and the cold :) Don’t be fooled…it was freezing. But it didn’t matter to anybody. We were just happy to be out there in the presence of hope.

We ended up finding a spot directly halfway between the Capitol and Washington Monument. The Capitol was in sight but we didn’t exactly have front-row seats. For the next 3.5 hours, we stood…we laid down on those hotel blankets I mentioned early … we did jumping jacks (to try and warm up) … it didn’t work L I lost the feeling in my toes after about an hour. My fingers went numb. We did buy heat packs, which I now believe are the greatest invention ever. The $5 packs helped but there was no ignoring the fact that it was absolutely cold out there!

But don’t take my complaining as it not being worth every minute to be out there. I’ve never felt more patriotic in my life. I’ve never participated in anything political before so I’m glad to have that day as my first experience. I stood silent several times that day just to breathe the air of patriotism and stare in the eyes of strangers who were so friendly and compassionate.

There have been so many generations before me who have had the opportunity to be a part of American political history. I thought I would never get such a chance. But I did. I’m glad for it. I’ll look back 10 years from now and still be in awe of the experience. I’ll show my children the pictures. And I’m thrilled that I’ll be able to say that on the day America swore in its first black president, the day that millions of Americans stood together, cheering on a new era in our country ... I WAS THERE.

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